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09th Jul 2016

UFC 200: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don’t have to

The big one has arrived


Jon who?

MMA writers’ 2016 records

Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 63-33
Bourbon Ben Kiely: 58-38

Miesha Tate (18-5) vs. Amanda Nunes (12-4)

DM: Cliches become so because they’re usually so true that one can’t help but use them and this is just the perfect defence for the ‘styles make fights’ maxim.

Nunes is a fighter who comes out firing in the first round but if she can’t finish, she tends to tire in the second and third.

Tate has only been stopped by strikes in the first round on one occasion, almost a decade ago, and she knows how to weather an early storm and drag contests into dog fights.

With this fight being a five rounder, you could almost give Tate the fourth and fifth right now. Nunes has only won one decision in her professional career and, flukey haymaker aside, I just don’t see any other way that this doesn’t become a case of ‘Cupcake’ grinding her way to a decision.

Tate by decision

BK: Holly Holm deserves a lot more credit than she’s been given. The Preacher’s Daughter is not just “the woman who beat the woman” as Dana White coldly referred to her during Friday’s presser, she’s single-handedly responsible for making the women’s bantamweight one of the UFC’s most exciting weight classes.

Since the Rousey myth has been shattered, there is a sense that any of the top contenders could end up with that belt wrapped around their waist, and we could well get an upset again here.

Nunes is one hell of a striker and has the power to put anybody away. However, Tate’s elite heart and her unrelenting approach to hunting for the finish means that she gets more dangerous the longer the fight goes on. If she can weather the early storm, it should be the champion’s fight to lose.

Tate via submission (round four) (40)

Brock Lesnar (5-3) vs. Mark Hunt (12-10-1)

DM: Brock Lesnar didn’t exactly have a great chin when he was a 32-year-old champion and one’s ability to absorb punishment does not improve with age.

He’s presumably not been punched in the face very hard in five years and he comes up against arguably the hardest hitter in all of MMA on Saturday. I don’t like his odds.

Lesnar’s an athletic freak, granted, and his entries to takedowns probably haven’t lost much of their speed or explosiveness but they can’t possibly be as lightning quick as they once were.

If he gets Hunt down then it’s going to be a long night for ‘The Super Samoan’ but I think either an uppercut on an entry or even a glancing blow in the clinch is going to send Lesnar down early.

Hunt via KO (round one)

BK: There are so many variables at play here that nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

Lesnar’s been away from the sport during the period where it has arguably evolved the most since the modern sport’s inception in the early 90s. However, he’s such a genetic freak that he may be able to use his sheer physicality and athleticism to render Hunt’s far superior striking null and void.

I’m not holding out too much hope on that happening though. In my opinion, Hunt’s kickboxing is just too crisp and crafty for the WWE superstar, plus his takedown defence and agility might mean that Lesnar won’t be able to get this fight to the ground where he can really shine.

All it takes is for one of those haymakers to land and Lesnar will be done.

Hunt via KO (round one) 

Mark Hunt Struve

Daniel Cormier (17-1) vs. Anderson Silva (33-7-1NC)

DM: I’m truly grateful for Anderson’s courage so I hope Cormier doesn’t embarrass him but I can’t see how a 41-year-old man whose chin has badly deteriorated and has questionable takedown defence can beat Cormier.

A Silva in his prime would make this fight interesting but he’s not in his prime and he’s taking this fight on like an hour’s notice.

Cormier is going to toss that man around the place.

DC via TKO (round two)

BK: Come on now, Cormier is one of the best fighters in the world. Anderson Silva hasn’t been one of the best fighters in the world since 2011. That being said, I am delighted Cormier’s getting his payday. What happened with Jones was just lousy.

DC via KO (round one) (42)

Jose Aldo (25-2) vs. Frankie Edgar (20-4-1)

DM: At some point, you just have to believe in destiny and Edgar’s destiny is to win that second world championship.

He’s absolutely ripped through the division since dropping the tightest of decision to Jose Aldo in 2013.

When you take a side-by-side glance at Aldo and Edgar, it’s hard not to say that Edgar’s the one who looks to have improved most and the devastating fashion in which Jose lost to McGregor must have taken it out of him.

Have to see Alvarez’s win on Thursday night as a massive motivating factor and I just expect Edgar’s gas tank to give Aldo too many problems.

Edgar by decision

BK: We all saw Mark Henry’s handy work in Eddie Alvarez’s sensational first round knockout victory over Rafael dos Anjos to win the belt on Thursday night. As great as the new 155 lb champion is, Frankie Edgar is even better, and he continues to get better with each fight.

Aldo has been saying his training camp for this fight was like the WEC days. Here’s hoping he meant in terms of intensity and not that he has reverted back to the training techniques he was doing six years ago. The game has evolved drastically since then and the Answer has been one of the great innovators during that period. If Aldo comes out fighting like a 2010 fighter, his night will end very early.

Edgar via KO (round two)

Edgar takedown Aldo

Cain Velasquez (13-2) vs. Travis Browne (18-3-1)

DM: Travis Browne wants to fight on the outside where he can use the significant reach advantage he holds over most men at heavyweight and when you consider that, he’s taking on a nightmare opponent.

Cain Velasquez has made a name for himself by closing the distance quickly, pressuring opponents’ in the clinch and dirty boxing his way into takedown opportunities.

Barring a stunning knockout, I’m picking Velasquez because he’s just got too many tools in his locker and matches up stylistically well with Browne.

Velasquez by decision

BK: The problem with heavyweights is that because of the fights tending to end so quickly, you don’t really get to see enough of them in action to properly judge how much they’ve progressed. This problem is only intensified when they struggle with injuries, and such is the case for Velasquez.

At one stage he was considered the baddest man on the planet, but then Werdum cleaned his clock and choked him out. That was over a year ago and remarkably, his second last fight was two years prior to this.

Logic would dictate that the superior fighter (Velasquez) will win, but this is the division that gave birth to the “one punch can change a fight” adage. Ring rust can be very dangerous when huge haymakers are swinging. Here’s hoping this won’t be an issue for Velasquez.

Velasquez via TKO (round two)

Velasquez KO Lesnar

Preliminary card quick picks:

DM: Zingano def. Pena
BK: Zingano def. Pena

DM: Gastelum def. Hendricks
BK: Hendricks def. Gastelum

DM: Dillashaw def. Assuncao
BK: Dillashaw def. Assuncao

DM: Northcutt def. Marin
BK: Northcutt def. Marin

DM: Sanchez def. Lauzon
BK: Sanchez def. Lauzon

DM: Mousasi def. Santos
Mousasi def. Santos

DM: Miller def. Gomi
BK: Miller def. Gomi